Expatica news

Legal protection for euthanasia pharmacists

15 December 2005

BRUSSELS — Belgian pharmacists are now allowed to supply doctors with a fatal dose of medicine with which euthanasia can be carried out.

More than three years after Belgium legalised euthanasia, the new regulation relating to pharmacists has been published in the government newspaper ‘Staatsblad’. Publication makes the new law legal.

Up until now, pharmacists faced the risk of being prosecuted for being an accomplice to a criminal act, medical weekly ‘De Huisarts’ reported.

Tuesday’s edition of the Staatsblad said a pharmacist who supplies euthanaticum or euthanasia drugs will not be charged if the supply is based on a prescription in which a doctor states he or she has abided by euthanasia laws.
The pharmacist will be expected in future to personally supply the drug directly to the doctor, newspaper ‘De Tijd’ reported on Thursday.

The change in regulations comes on request from Liberal VLD Senator Annemie Van de Casteele and was approved by the Lower House of Parliament and the Senate.

The government determines the safety regulations and pre-conditions that need to be met by the prescription and supply of the drugs.

Following parliament approval of the euthanasia legislation on 28 May 2002, great uncertainty developed over the role of the pharmacist.

The law did not give any condition or guarantee that pharmacists would not be prosecuted if they were linked to an illegal death.

In the past, pharmacists often refused to supply prescribed high doses of medicine because it was not certain if they would be used for euthanasia purposes.

If the pharmacist now knows that it is a prescription for the purpose of euthanasia, he can still refuse to co-operate based on personal or ethical reasons.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news